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Why Pakistan and China back Khalistan radicals

Updated: Apr 16

Recent attacks on the Indian High Commission in London have exposed Dal Khalsa’s links to the Pakistan High Commission in London. This investigation shows that Dal Khalsa’s historic support from Pakistan is evolving into a new threat with Gurcharan Singh at the centre. Beijing lurking in the background.

In 2018, Republic TV’s Shawan Sen, ran a sting operation on Gurcharan Singh, the lead instigator behind the recent escalation of violence in London (1). In the undercover footage that was captured, Singh confessed to support from Pakistan and boasted about his organisation, Dal Khalsa, and its growing ties to China. Singh said they had set up offices in Beijing.

Singh also supported China’s goal of annexing Sikkim in northeastern India, a major part of China’s active plan to push India in the Himalayan region.

Figure 1: Gurcharan Singh says Dal Khalsa has China office

Figure 2: Singh says he wants to support China to take Sikkim in India

Photos taken from Dal Khalsa UK’s Facebook page show the organisation was invited to an event on Kashmir by the Pakistan High Commission. This photo alone isn’t enough to tie Dal Khalsa to Pakistan. But it must be noted, Gurcharan Singh of Dal Khalsa UK, is the protégé of the late Manmohan Singh Khalsa (MSK) a global leader of the Khalistan movement. MSK openly enjoyed support from Pakistan and radicals linked to the ISI.

MSK fled to the UK from India because of his radical views. MSK set up Dal Khalsa in Southall, London to carry on working on his radical aims. Gurcharan Singh was his deputy at Dal Khalsa. Singh now leads the organisation. Dal Khalsa figures have been linked to shootings and violence in the UK.

In 2005, Jaswant Singh Thekedar, a former Dal Khalsa leader was shot at in London in a suspected internal dispute between Khalistan groups. Thekedar has now renounced his former views and believes India is on the right path, “The Khalistan Referendum is ISI Conspiracy,” said Thekedar to journalists when talking about the Dal Khalsa and Sikhs for Justice-backed referendums. He also went on to accuse Pakistan of cynical behaviour by deploying violence and drug trafficking, “Pakistan is destroying Punjab’s youth. It is supplying drugs and arms inside the state. This is totally against us; Pakistan wants to destroy a generation.” (2)

Figure 3: Gurcharan Singh with his mentor MSK.

Manmohan Singh Khalsa enjoyed support from former Pakistani ISI directors, they included the notorious Hamid Gul and Javed Nasir. These ISI figures led the K-2 strategy of combining Kashmir and Khalistan operations. Javed Nasir and MSK worked on Pakistan’s Sikh-Muslim relations at the same time Nasir was also setting up the Taliban in Afghanistan (3). Despite his overt radicalism, MSK has shared stages with Pakistani Prime Ministers where he railed against the state of India.

Figure 4: MSK with Javed Nasir, the father of the Taliban

When General Zia-ul-Haq took control of the Pakistani government in 1977, Pakistan decided to use the radical Jamaat-e-Islami movement to supplement intelligence operations. Zia encouraged his officers to join Pakistan’s radical Islamist parties. Jamaat’s Qazi Hossain Ahmad led this effort.

The ISI continues to support Jamaat. Khaled Latif Mughal, a former ISI director was even made the chairman of Muslim Aid Pakistan. Muslim Aid UK was purged of Jamaat influence in the UK after American pressure. The US found that Osama bin Laden was in direct contact with the head of a British charity while he was hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan. US Navy Seals seized the correspondence before departing Osama’s compound with the terror leader's corpse. US intelligence suspected it was Khaled Latif Mughal who was Osama’s charity leader pen pal. Muslim Aid had also been funding Umar Patek’s network JI-Kompak in Indonesia. FBI agents have stated publicly that Patek, was the lead bombmaker behind the Bali atrocities. The FBI’s Frank Pellegrino said Patek led the USA to Osama, but President Obama’s White House and the CIA have denied the claims (4).

Qazi Hossain Ahmad ran Operation Cyclone with the ISI. Ahmad brought Osama bin Laden to Jamaat’s headquarters in Lahore and introduced him to Pakistani and Afghan leaders. After the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Jamaat helped the ISI to run the Khalistan and Kashmir operations in the 80s and 90s. In 1993, Khalistani terrorists worked in tandem with Hizbul Mujahideen, Jamaat’s armed wing in Kashmir. In the early 1990s, Indian authorities busted a terrorist network. When they interviewed the suspects, they confessed that Jamaat’s Press Secretary, Amirul Azeem helped them alongside ISI officers (5). In 1999, Jamaat-e-Islami helped to launch events and conferences for Khalistan leaders in Lahore, (6)

“Jamaat-i-Islami, which has close links with the Pakistani Army and has been playing a leading role in Islamic militancy in Kashmir, assured a recent gathering of separatist Sikhs in a Lahore hotel ''do not consider yourselves alone in the fight for freedom: all the Muslims of the world are with you.''

The notorious former ISI director, Hamid Gul wrote an article in Nawa-i-Waqt to support the conference aims, “''now is the time the Kashmiri Mujaheedin established contacts with the Khalistanis.” Pakistan’s open support for Khalistan and their leaders' open praise for Chinese aggression is a national security threat that goes beyond conventional India-Pakistan disputes.

In 2009, Jamaat-e-Islami was invited to China at the behest of the Pakistani ISI. In the 1990s, Jamaat had run terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan for Uighur radicals coming out of Xinjiang, China. The Uighur militants were invited to Pakistan as students. The ISI and Jamaat used their educational arms like the International Islamic University in Islamabad (IIU) as cover then diverted Uighurs to jihadi camps. Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden’s mentor, and Qazi Hossain Ahmad also used the same strategy during Operation Cyclone. Azzam, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, was working with the IIU when he brought the Arab Afghans into Osama’s orbit in the 1980s.

China has always supported Khalistan, but its relationship was always a junior role in comparison to the ISI’s efforts. Gurcharan Singh’s revelations that Dal Khalsa has offices in Beijing suggest the K-2 project has evolved and Beijing is taking a more active role. We know the memorandum of understanding with Jamaat-e-Islami was to stop radicalism and promote cooperation. Jamaat has nurtured the Khalistan account for the ISI.

China’s aggression around the world must be checked. It’s time authorities help India by disrupting China and Pakistan’s ties to radicalism. China’s support of Khalistan constitutes a growing counterterrorism and counterintelligence threat. Pakistan is the enabler. The UK can’t afford to turn a blind eye especially as Dal Khalsa has been linked to intimidation of British Sikhs, shootings, and blood has been spilled on London streets. We don’t need any more. Gurcharan Singh’s actions are escalating in the UK. But who is pulling the strings?







(Chris Blackburn is a British political analyst and commentator. He is part of the European Bangladesh Forum, and specialises on South Asia.)

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